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Contemporary Style
Meets Spanish Architecture in the Woodlands
November, 2015 - Issue #133

"The dining room became the piano room! This is a very special room because our children took many, many years of lessons," says Laney. The crystal-clear acrylic chair adds a contemporary element to the space.

Stephanie Laney, the lead designer for Surfaces USA, calls Santa Clarita's Woodlands community home - and she has made it her own, fusing contemporary accents with the house's Spanish architecture and dramatic archways.

ABOVE "This chair is something I reupholstered with custom fabric for a pop of color," says Laney. The beautiful needlepoint fabric in rich aquas and greens offsets the neutral tones with its lavish, unexpected material. "I love using traditional material in a contemporary way," says the homeowner. LEFT Handblown glass lighting illuminates the entryway. INSET The front door's bronze glass casts vibrant color and illuminates the elements in the courtyard, like these wooden spheres.

The professional designer's knack for making spaces special is never more obvious than in this home, where surprises abound around every corner.

RIGHT The upstairs landing is one of the home's most beautiful spaces. "In the Woodlands, even though this is a planned community and not custom-built homes, the architects were really smart. They built beautiful homes with beautiful spaces. When you get to the top of the stairs, you aren't staring at a bedroom or narrow hallway. They created an area that's aesthetically pleasing, and it's an easy space to sit and enjoy the gorgeous light that streams in," says Laney.

"It's about choosing elements that you truly love," says the pro. "I really stress the artwork. Choose things you love because they mean something to you or have real value... not because it matches. We tend to fill our houses with a lot of junk because we want to 'decorate.' But less is more! Stick to buying unique pieces that say something." The test, Laney says, is this: "If you wouldn't want to take this item with you if you moved, don't buy it. Instead, pick things that you know you'll want forever."

ABOVE Silver-mirrored candlesticks add height and shimmering dimension to the tabletop. RIGHT Natural Calcutta marble in "Calcutta Manhattan" tops the home's island and counters. "It's a very rare piece of marble; I waited nearly a year for the right piece to speak to me - to have the art-like value I was looking for. This one did!," says the homeowner. Calcutta Manhattan marble is available from Surfaces USA. To visually expand the room, Laney used the same marble that served as countertops in the backsplash area. "It makes it feel deeper," she explains. INSET The kitchen's distinctive tongue-and-groove wood ceiling is reminiscent of the past, balancing the more-modern lighting.

Don't be afraid of change, though, when it comes to furniture placement, says the homeowner. "My kids make a joke that they can't ever come home in the dark for fear of tripping over some furniture that wasn't in that spot when they left for the day. I'm constantly moving pieces around. It's a very simple way to refresh your house and create a new space. Change it around! I call it remerchandising," she jokes.

ABOVE "This is our family's primary living space, so I really wanted to make sure that it had a large sofa and lots of seating. I even 'hid' ottomans here and there that could double as extra chairs when we have guests," says the homeowner. "This home is Spanish style with very traditional walls and arches. We put a special treatment on the walls that you can see here that look like old lathe and plaster." RIGHT The archway between the great room and kitchen features a comfortable chair so guests can be part of the meal-prep. Here, the mid-century modern seating invites visitors to take a seat. INSET The "safari table" has legs that are inspired by elephant tusks and natural element design doesn't stop there. "I literally brought the tree branches from outside. I love the organic flow of the outside coming in."

No matter what you select as furniture and accents, be sure to choose fantastic lighting, suggests Laney. "I treat all my chandeliers like they are art pieces. I don't match anything to the chandeliers. The pieces in this home - they all have individual value to them. They are here because I love them."

LEFT The home's master bedroom is conveniently located on the first floor, a big selling point for the homeowners. "That's the real reason we wanted this house," shares Laney. "It opens up to the pool and is central to the bottom floor." The room's flooring is wood to add to the visual and physical warmth of the space. "I love the richness of this dark furniture," she says. "This is a solid, timeless suite." RIGHT Black shutters bring attention to detail in the master bath.

A final tip from the interior designer: Don't shy away from black. "I use black throughout the house as an accent, especially on doors and windows, because it's such a focal point and really draws you into the room. It gives you a lot of depth to the space. Do the trim or the door color black to really make things pop. It's a wonderful color to decorate with; don't be afraid of it!"
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